Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras

I’m a creature of habit. I admit it. When I find a restaurant I really like, I’m more likely to return than to try new places that may disappoint. Last night, I went to Le Frichti’s, on the quai de la Poissonnerie, in La petite Venise quarter of Colmar. What a delight!  The décor was sophisticated and elegant, mostly in tones of cream and gray. The menu lived up to their slogan of traditionnelle et inventive. They’ve been open about a year. I was tempted by the menu at 25€ (about $35 US) for three courses. I started with six escargots. They were prepared in the traditional way – baked in butter laden with parsley and garlic. The presentation was beautiful, in an elegant white porcelain chafing dish with a scalloped edge. For the main course, I went for the salmon served with puréed potatoes and vegetables. Again, the presentation was eye-catching – the vegetables and potatoes were layered in a square with the salmon lounging across the top. Dessert was a fresh apricot tart that nicely balanced creamy texture, crisp crust, and tangy fruit.

Tonight, I went back because last night I had been sorely tempted by the scallops. (I have a thing for scallops.) This time, I was seated in the classy outside terrace. The seared scallops were wonderful, served in a bath of cider with vegetables. The excellent waitress (also the same one as last night)suggested strawberries, also served in a bath, but of mint tea this time, with a scoop of lemon sorbet. See above. So simple, so beautiful, and so delicious.

Last night my dinner came complete with entertainment. A very pleasant pair of American women, with almost no French, made animal noises to ask questions about the menu. It seems that everyone in Alsace speaks terrific German as a second language, but they aren’t as confident in English. This makes sense because the vast majority of tourists are German. The waiter was doing his best, but there was definitely a communication gap. One of the women began baaing and quacking to clarify her way through the menu. She even flapped her arms like a goose. I am not kidding. People! I implore you! Take half an hour to learn the basic vocabulary for food before you travel to a foreign country. There are even handy laminated folders with basic phrases that you can tuck in your bag. You won’t know every word, but you won’t have to quack in a lovely restaurant.

Today’s expression, un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras (uhn teeN voh meyuh kuh duh to lorah) literally means “one that you hold is better than two that you will have.” This is the equivalent of our expression “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” If you feel the same way, you just might go to restaurants two nights in a row, too. Life is short. Why take chances?

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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